It hasn’t been an easy ride for 17-year-old truck fan Sebastian Martino. As he prepares to graduate from Year 12 at Miller Technology High School, his proud mum Callie Hume wants to make his wish of arriving to his formal in a truck come true – but that wish has gone up a few notches, with Sebastian’s Formal Convoy set up to raise funds for The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney.
When Sebastian was just three months old, Callie received the heart-wrenching news no parent ever wants to hear. Her beautiful newborn baby was diagnosed with brain cancer and she was told he would be lucky to make it to his first birthday.
“At three months, he had a brain tumour and from then on, numerous other complications. His tumour was actually classed as benign but then grew and travelled down the spine. He started chemo at 10 months but after he completed one lot, it continued to grow so they stopped the whole protocol and put him on a new trial drug for 18-24 months,” recalled Callie.
“It was the worst experience of my life. I also had a two-and-a-half-year-old son, so I was trying to juggle myself between Sebastian and giving attention to my other son too. He’s had various other surgeries since his chemo and even now when he sees his doctors, they say it’s a miracle that he’s alive.”
Having defied all the odds, Callie couldn’t be prouder of the young man Sebastian has become. “I’m very proud of him, he’s come a long way.”
And it’s clear from speaking with Callie that she would do absolutely anything for her “miracle boy”. Knowing how much Sebastian wanted to go to his formal in a truck, she put the word out on Facebook and was overwhelmed with the generosity of the trucking community. Over 500 truckies reached out, offering to help make Sebastian’s dream come true.
With this, Callie came up with the idea of turning it into a fundraising opportunity, a chance to give back to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, which has looked after Sebastian from the beginning.
Founded in 1880, the Children’s Hospital at Westmead is a public hospital that cares for over 80,000 sick children and their families each year. As part of the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, the Children’s Hospital at Westmead is the largest paediatric centre in NSW specialising in treating seriously ill children.
Bandaged Bear is the hospital’s mascot and the Bandaged Bear Appeal has been part of the hospital’s fundraising for over 30 years.
“Sebastian’s about to leave that hospital and I’d give them everything I have. They have given us everything. We wanted to show our gratitude to the exceptional doctors and nurses who have taken such good care of Sebastian over the past 18 years,” she said.
Sebastian’s Year 12 formal will take place on 20 November. Around 30 trucks are expected to take part in Sebastian’s Formal Convoy, with one truck dropping Sebastian off in true truckie style.
Sydney truck driver Baz Stowers, who works for Metro Tipper Hire, has come on board to assist with the logistics of the convoy.
He came across Sebastian’s story after it was shared on the Facebook group he and mate Jason Sammut manage called Official Sydney Tippers. “We wanted to use our numbers to help support these sorts of causes. We are regular attendees of the Convoy for Kids and last year were asked to help out during the bushfires, so ran supplies to affected areas. When we saw Callie’s post after a member shared it, we put our hand up straight away to help,” he said.
“I’m a father myself and like many other truck drivers, we’re family men, so are very happy to help out. I’m heading up the route so will be making the phone calls to authorities.
“The convoy will start at the Crossroads Hotel carpark and then we’ll take the trucks past the school, before getting onto the M5 and travelling to the city for the formal,” added Stowers, who will be driving his gleaming black Kenworth K200 on the day as part of the convoy.
“Sebastian wants to be a truck driver when he grows up but we don’t know whether or not that will be possible. We’ve been talking to his neurologists to discuss the possibility of him being able to get his driver’s licence,” said Callie.
“Sebastian is excited to be finishing school and wants to have a gap year. Pre-COVID he was doing work experience at local sheltered workshops. He actually speaks two languages, English and Spanish, and could say ‘truck’ in Spanish before he could say any other words.”
Callie has set a fundraising goal of $5000. Donations for Sebastian’s Formal Convoy can be made by clicking here.
For more information about participating in the convoy, please contact Baz Stowers on 0472 906 244.